Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kate Beckinsale, Daniel Brühl, Cara Delevingne, Genevieve Gaunt, Ava Acres, Sai Bennett, Rosie Fellner, John Hopkins, Peter Sullivan, Alistair Petrie, Corrado Invernizzi, Valerio Mastandrea, Andrea Tidona, Austin Spangler, Ranieri Menicori
Written by: Paul Viragh, based on a book by Barbie Latza Nadeau
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 101
Date: 06/19/2015

The Face of an Angel (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Killing the Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Michael Winterbottom (In This World, A Mighty Heart) is frequently focused on serious, issue-driven movies, but The Face of an Angel, inspired by the real-life 2007 Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case, seems content to wander off into meta-ness, even if it never arrives anywhere.

A film director, Thomas (Daniel Bruhl), meets with a journalist, Simone Ford (Kate Beckinsale), to discuss a movie version of a real-life murder case, which is still unfolding. A teen girl has been accused of killing another teen, and the trial is underway. Thomas tries to gather as many details as he can, traveling around and meeting with shady characters. He tries to Skype with his estranged daughter, has a fling with Simone, and then begins hanging around with the beautiful student Melanie (Cara Delevingne). He drinks, snorts cocaine, and has hallucinations. He decides that he doesn't want to tell a traditional "whodunit" story, and eventually decides, while sitting by the beach, that nothing is knowable.

At first, watching Bruhl search for clues and story ideas gives the movie some kind of purpose, but as he hallucinates, changes his mind, and tries to find ways to not tell the story, the movie itself ends up not doing anything. Winterbottom's realistic style, and Italian locations, give the movie some much-needed atmosphere, and the actors, especially the lovely Beckinsale and Delevingne, project a sense of international dislocation; they are travelers whose homes are everywhere, and nowhere. It's possible to drift off with the movie's foggy mystique, but anyone interested in a story, themes, or ideas should look elsewhere.

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